Tag Archives: Spinach

Couscous Stuffed Tomatoes


When in need of an extra vegetable that can sub as a main meal for the vegetarian coming to your party, reference back to this recipe.  I made these for Christmas and was in no way missing out during dinner.


What you’ll need:


  • 8-10 medium tomatoes
  • 1 box couscous
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1 cup 2 different kinds of mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup fresh spinach
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tsp. cayenne
  • 1 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • 1 package mozzarella cheese


Wash the tomatoes then start by cutting the tomatoes in half and spooning the center out into a bowl.  I used a melon baller, which worked perfectly for this task. Set aside for later.


Next, fry the onions, mushrooms and garlic together with a tablespoon or so of olive oil in a frying pan.  Cook until the mushroom turn dark brown in color and the onions become translucent, about 5-8 minutes. Everything should smell of garlic.

Toss in your greens and spices (spinach, basil, pepper, cayenne, Italian seasoning) next then cook until the basil shrinks, about 2-4 minutes.


While your vegetables are cooking you can start the couscous. Cook according to the directions replacing the water with vegetable broth.  When the couscous is almost complete, stir in the sun-dried tomatoes until thoroughly heated (I used canned sun-dried tomatoes that were already softened).  When I made this I used two boxes of couscous because I doubled up on the amount of tomatoes, but this is not necessary.  One box was plenty and the condensed vegetable medley would have provided more flavors.


Next mix together your vegetables, couscous and tomato pulp in a mixing bowl.


Stuff the couscous blend into the tomato halves and place on a roasting pan.


Top each tomato shell with a healthy amount of cheese. Here you can experiment using parmesan, mozzarella, white cheddar or even fresh mozzarella slices. Another tasty option would be to mix parmesan inside the couscous mix and top with mozzarella.


Bake in the oven at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 25-30 minutes.


To brown the top, broil for 3-5 minutes.


This was an excellent main course for Christmas for the vegetarian in our small group (me).  My uncle stated that when he spooned in a piece of basil with his grains it made a huge difference in adding much-needed flavor to the boring couscous.  The tomatoes mush, somewhat, when cooked allowing your fork to slice right through scooping up bits of grains, cheese, vegetables and tomato. 


I took both the left over couscous medley, tasty just on its own, and whole tomatoes to lunch for the next week. Two was more than enough to keep me going until dinner. The couscous, similar to when you cook it, puffs up in your stomach keeping you full for quite a while with a healthy carbohydrate. To make this gluten-free simply substitute in quinoa for the couscous.

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Quinoa Veggie Cakes with Red Pepper Almond Sauce

A wonderful addition to girl’s weekend and the BBQ at Dani’s.  These are a vegetarian’s dream food, including all of the daily nutrients in one small “cake”.

For the cakes:

  • 1 large egg
  • 2 Tbs. all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. tahini or almond butter 
  • 1 1/2 tsp. red wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 1 cup finely grated sweet potato
  • 1/2 10-oz. pkg. frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 1/4 cup chopped roasted red peppers, drained
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 2 Tbs. finely diced onion
  • 1 Tbs. chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 Tbsp. curry powder
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. ginger
  • 1 tsp. cayenne
  • 1 clove garlic, minced

For the sauce:

  • 1 1/2 cups roasted red peppers, drained
  • 1/2 cup toasted almonds
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 tsp. red wine vinegar

Start by pre-cooking your quinoa and pre-heating the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray a baking pan to keep the lumps of quinoa from later sticking to the pan and breaking apart.

Next, in a large bowl, mix together the egg, flour, red wine vinegar and tahini or nut butter. I chose almond butter because it was in the cabinet, but feel free to experiment with different flavors. Peanut butter is acceptable, but may be a little too much as it tends to overpower anything it’s added to. If you use peanut butter, I’d also use Asian spices like soy sauce, 5-spice powder, chili pepper or hoisin sauce instead of going the Indian spice route I took.image

In the same bowl, add the remaining “cake” ingredients.  If you don’t have frozen spinach, do like I did; take fresh spinach leaves, add a tsp. of water, cover with a paper towel or plastic wrap and microwave for 20 seconds. It will wither into a similar fashion as the frozen spinach making it easier to blend into the hodgepodge of vegetables and grains.


Take a handful of the medley and create a hockey puck like shape, placing the final result on your baking pan repeating until all the mix is gone.  Place the cookie sheet in the oven for 25 minutes or until the tops of the “cakes” are brown and creating a crusty outer shell.image

While the main part of the dish is cooking you can quickly blend together the sauce ingredients. Combine everything in a small blender or Magic Bulletimage I left out the almonds in mine, but they would pair nicely with the almond butter in the quinoa cakes.  Blend until smooth.


When your entree is fully cooked, remove from the oven and either drizzle the roasted red pepper almond sauce on top or serve next to the “cakes” for dipping.  I tried the sauce both cold and hot. Either way works because the quinoa vegetable “cakes” are served piping hot, warming the sauce when it’s mixed together in your mouth.


As Dani’s stepbrother stated so well, “It looks like bird food.” And it does, but it the taste trumps looks in this recipe. 

The acidity of the sauce and watery nature soaks right into the absorbent quinoa.  Bursts of cumin and curry tango with candied sweet potato, green spinach, nutty flavors and sweet onions.  The bitterness often associated with spinach is drawn out with the acidic red wine vinegar and these both evenly pair with the nutty aspect of the almond butter, toasted almonds in the dressing and walnuts (which add a perfect amount of crunch). This dish is a vegetarian’s dream, carrying protein in the quinoa and so many vitamin-rich vegetables mixed in one “cake”.  You’ll never know you’re eating healthy the way everything rounds to a patty-like conformity melding with each bite.  The sauce is a must as it smooths all the spices to a consistent sapidity.image

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Filed under Appetizers, Food, Gluten-Free, Lunch/Dinner

Erin McGuire’s Morning Eggs

McGuire makes THE best eggs, hands down. So here is my attempt at a recreation of the wonderous things she again cooked for Leah and I last Monday morning.  I unfortunately didn’t have the right vegetables on hand, but these turned out alright too.

You will need:

5-12 eggs
Salt & Pepper
Vegetables: I used diced tomatoes (we were out of the grape tomatoes), spinach, black beans, and dried chili peppers
Dash of Rosemary

Begin by heating your frying pan on low with a teaspoon or so of oil, or Erin usually uses the olive oil spray.  In a mixing bowl whisk together your eggs with some salt and pepper. Add in the vegetables (Cook beforehand if necessary i.e. green peppers and onions) and garlic.  Pour batter into the heated frying pan and top with cheese adn a dash of rosemary.image

The trick is to not touch the eggs. Let them sit and cook on the bottom. When they start to emit steam and you are sure the bottom will be nice and browned, flip the egg batter over to completely cook.  Let this side sit also and brown (not burn).  You will end up with large chunks that are cooked to perfection.  Top with more cheese, salt and pepper and serve.  If you cooked with a whole chili pepper or two, now is the time to remove this.image

There is something about the way McGuire cooks them that I can’t master, as you can see from my picture.  She’d make a dozen or two eggs before tailgating ND football games in college, and even then we raved about her egg cooking abilities.  They still tasted great, but I haven’t mastered the technique of browning them perfectly.  She is going to show me how one day, until then I’ll stick to my mushier, less firm scrambled eggs or letting her cook.  Waking up to the smell of breakfast was absolutely amazing, and I now know what it must feel like to be cooked for. Thanks again McGuire!image

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Filed under Breakfast, Food, Gluten-Free

Spinach & Mushroom Quiche

My mom found this recipe on Food Network’s website, and I have to say, who doesn’t love a good Paula Deen dish?  They’re always loaded with lots of butter, heavy cream, and Southern love.

For this easy Quiche, buy:

  • 6 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 cups chopped fresh baby spinach, packed
  • 1 package of button mushrooms, sliced and sautéed
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded Swiss cheese
  • Optional mozzarella or white cheddar cheese for filling or topping
  • 1 (9-inch) refrigerated pie crust, fitted to a 9-inch glass pie plate

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Farenheit.

In a food processor or blender (or whisk by hand), fuse together the eggs, heavy cream, salt, pepper. In the pie crust (which may already be in a metal baking container or place in a 9-inch glass pie plate) layer your other ingredients: spinach, mushrooms, cheese. Pour on the egg mixture.  Bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until the egg mixture becomes a solid and there is no sign of liquid left in the pie.  Serve in wedges.  Top with freshly ground pepper and cheese if desired

This dish is really versatile and can be great for breakfast, lunch, brunch, dinner or linner.  The real recipe calls for bacon instead of mushrooms, which would add a lot more flavor.  I choose to add flavor with spices and by swapping in a stronger heartier cheese to mix with the swiss, which can sometimes be too pungent and leave a bad taste in your mouth for hours after.  Shake it up and add tomatoes, broccoli, or any other additive.  I absolutely love when pie crusts flake off and crumble like the Dominick’s brand we bought (Surprising, I know. The off brand was actually good.).  That is the perfect density for a crust, and usually still holds together at the bottom.  If you aren’t a pie lover, this will give you that same pie feeling without all the sweetness.



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Filed under Breakfast, Food, Lunch/Dinner

Spinach Calzones

Danielle again amazes me with her healthy recipes, so I decided to stop by and cook for her.  The recipe calls for 1 (10 oz) can of refrigerated pizza crust, 4 garlic cloves, 4 cups of spinach leaves, 8 (1/8 inch thick) slices of a sweet onion, 1 and 1/3 cups of sliced button mushrooms and 3/4 cup (3 oz) crumbled blue cheese.


Pillsbury has the best refrigerated and in a can rolls, so I assumed correctly that their pizza dough would have that similar sweet, light, and fluffy taste.  You start by popping the can, and jumping with fright every time if you are like me, then spread out the dough on a greased baking sheet.  Cut it into four and pat out 6″ by 5″ rectangles.  Starting with the minced garlic cloves, spread out each vegetable into your four rectangles.


I cut the onions a little too thick, and they probably would fit better if you actually chop them up instead of ringed slices.  I also added tomatoes, but after making this got to thinking they would also be incredible doused in tomato/pizza sauce like your own personal folded up pizza, or panzerotti as the Italian restaurants will call it.  Mini Bella mushrooms were on sale and are oh so much better of a texture and taste that your typical white button mushroom.  Also, I tried frozen spinach, as it is cheaper and easier, quickly zapped it in the microwave, and it still added a desirable, fresh flavor to the dish.  I decided to shop at Meijer after realizing that the Wal-Mart I went to was not a super Wal-Mart, and Meijer had this 4 oz block of blue cheese still in the wax.  It was the perfect size and not as strong and vibrant on your tongue as your typical blue cheese.  It also didn’t have the usual blue mold you see mixed into your cheese.  Highly recommend trying this kind.



So once all the ingredients are piled high, but not too high or like me you won’t be able to close these babies, you will grab opposing corners of the pizza dough and pinch them together then start down the sides closing the calzone.



They bake in the oven at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes or until golden brown.  This is when we decided it was okay that the calzones were overstuffed and unable to close.  They still came out looking, smelling and tasting as good as if they had sizzled and baked inside their own personal pod.


Upon eating these Tobi and Danielle decided it needed some savory or spice for added flavor, but overall a good meal.  Add a chopped salad (thanks to Danielle’s mom) and some raspberry sorbet for a complete dinner.

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Spinach Spinners

My mom asked for help on finding an appetizer to bring for Easter. “I have a ton of Fontina cheese. Use that,” she said.

So after searching a few recipes I decided on making pinwheels. Not only are these appealing to the eye for both kids and adults, they taste delicious and are the perfect two-bite size.

My mom couldn’t find the right amount of puff pastry, so I ended up rolling out some pre-portioned circular designed puff pastries to make two decent sized rectangles. I slathered the rectangular dough sheets with sautéed spinach, onion, garlic, parsley mix stirred together with parmesan and Fontina crumbled cheese. Then, rolled the long end until it met its match and cut these into tongue-plopping wheels using a serrated knife.


The green spirals arrived safely to my aunt’s house where they were placed on a baking sheet, brushed with an egg wash, sprinkled with more cheese, and cooked for 10 minutes at 425 degrees, flipped, and cooked for an additional 5.

Fresh out of the oven, these babies will burn the roof of your mouth off, followed by a sweet and salty, scrumptious after taste. Both batches were gone in 15 minutes.

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